The hustle and bustle of the City that never sleeps can wear on you. I’m in a constant battle with the clock. I’m always late for some meeting, a conference call, the must- attend event of the season, and so on.
The only way I’ve found to successfully combat my New York City lifestyle and all the stresses that come with it is to practice yoga. While some classes like Bikram or intense Vinyasa Flow can be a great aerobic exercise, I see yoga as a chance to unwind and focus on the mind/body connection that many foolishly tend to neglect.
I have been practicing yoga for roughly eight years now, and during that time, I’ve tried studios all over the City. I spent a few years at Sal Anthony’s Movement Salon in Union Square and enjoyed my occasional class with celebrities at Pranna Power Yoga (I once did a very sweaty downward facing dog next to a very fit Alan Cumming).
Then enter the creation of Class Pass. It’s an amazing fitness class membership where you pay a monthly fee and have access to countless classes all over your city (as most of the major ones across the U.S. are on there). I’ve taken full advantage of my membership and have tried a variety of new classes hoping to spark my inner yogi and harvest my namaste mantra. One adventurous experience was my first-ever aerial yoga class at OM Factory in Union Square, where hanging upside down in a relaxing pose was the norm, not the exception.
While I still seek new and interesting yoga options — I’m also infatuated with classes that fuse cardio and yoga together — I have found two that stand out in my mind as having the best overall experience tailored to what I need and want.
Yoga can be a deeply personal, and arguably, religious experience for many. Hopefully these choices will inspire New York City yogis everywhere to get moving and stretching, all while be mindful to slow down and enjoy the moment.
My Bougie Pick:
Price: $37 per class (mats and props included)
Exhale Spa offers a variety of core fusion, barre, and yoga classes for the City’s elite fitness gurus; there are several locations in Manhattan alone. I’ve spent a great deal of time (and money) at their outposts in Flatiron, Gramercy, and Central Park South. From a haute perspective, the Central Park South location is by far the most luxurious. The studios are larger, the locker rooms have all the bells and whistles you could possibly need, and there is a great quiet space where you can refresh with spa water and herbal tea with lemon and honey before or after your practice.
On a recent visit, I booked the Exhale Chill class mid-day amongst several business meetings uptown by Central Park. They have wonderful locker room facilities that would allow me to go in just like Superwoman and come out in a flash looking like a successful business goddess.
The class was everything I wanted. It was a slower yin practice, where you hold poses for longer periods of time (roughly three to four minutes). You use bolsters to help open your hips and other problem areas of your body. The hour felt like one big gentle hug for my body, and I could feel toxins release from my pores at the same time. When class ended, I poured myself a tall glass of spa water (does it get any more refreshing?) and headed into the spa for a quick steam. I took a luxurious shower with the finest of amenities, slapped some makeup back on, and dried my hair. By the time I emerged from my mid-day yoga class, I felt like a new woman.
My Budget Pick:
Yoga to the People (or Yoga to the People II)
Price: $5 per class ($2 mat rental)
There is no better deal in town than a yoga class at Yoga to the People. I have been practicing on and off at their Yoga to the People II location on 23rd and 3rd for the last year and a half. The classes are only $5, and if you bring your own mat, the buck literally stops there. If you are in need of a mat or simply can’t lug one around all day, the mat rental is only $2. So that’s a total of only $7, all-in.
The classes range from teacher to teacher in terms of yoga style. Some can be intense and aerobically affective, while others are gentler, with a focus on inversions for the more flexible yogis. There’s even a great class called “Rocket Yoga” that will have you moving and sweating like you never have before.
The vibe here is bohemian chic. Most of the clientele are regulars, and often amaze me with their levels of expertise. They’ll leave their mats at the studio and practice several times per week. No matter if you’re there a million times or just a few, the teachers are very welcoming and make you feel like family. Your practice is your own at Yoga to the People, and you take from it whatever you need.